FRAN: And the woman steps into the apartment thinking she’s going to get Tupperware and instead Ma pours the lady a drink and starts talking her ear off, I mean just going on and on about nothing and everything: acid rain and the Reagan china pattern in the White House and kids on milk cartons because “what kind of world is this that let’s that happen I ask you?” and the cost of school lunch “through the roof”—
Since a full service of china had not been purchased since the Truman administration, it was no longer possible to serve state dinners on matching china when the Reagans moved into the White House in 1981. Nancy Reagan quickly rectified this, but she received a lot of criticism from the press and American public for what seemed like an extravagant cost. The objections were unfounded, however, since taxpayer money was not being used for the china. The Knapp Foundation, a private organization, had originally donated the funds to finance the service anonymously, but when the public raised such an outcry, they publicly announced their gift in a futile attempt to spare Nancy Reagan from such harsh criticism.
“President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, turned to Lenox in 1981 to provide 4,370 pieces, enough placesettings of 19 pieces for 220 people — nearly twice as many as other recent services.
The first family was accustomed to formal entertaining and chose a pattern to reflect their tastes. Also, in the intervening years since the White House renovation of the early 1950s, the State Dining Room had been painted white, so the Reagans wanted a china with a strong presence for the large, subtly colored room.
Mrs. Reagan worked closely with Lenox designers to develop a pattern with bands in a striking scarlet — her favorite color. The bands vary in width depending on the scale of the piece and are framed on each side with etched gold, creating a sparkling contrast with the soft ivory china. The presidential seal, in raised gold, partially overlays the red border. On certain pieces, such as the service and dessert plates, fine gold crosshatching overlays the red — a decorative technique that required extensive special handling and nine separate firings in the kilns.”
– Lenox White House China